What is Spam

E-mail spam, also known as junk e-mail or unsolicited bulk e-mail (UBE), is a subset of spam that involves nearly identical messages sent to numerous recipients by e-mail. Definitions of spam usually include the aspects that e-mail is unsolicited and sent in bulk.

E-mail spam has steadily grown since the early 1990s. Botnets, networks of virus-infected computers, are used to send about 80% of spam. Since the cost of the spam is borne mostly by the recipient, it is effectively postage due advertising.

Spammers collect e-mail addresses from chatrooms, websites, customer lists, newsgroups, and viruses which harvest users' address books, and are sold to other spammers. They also use a practice known as "e-mail appending" or "epending" in which they use known information about their target (such as a postal address) to search for the target's e-mail address. Much of spam is sent to invalid e-mail addresses. Spam averages 78% of all e-mail sent.

Most common products advertised

According to information compiled by Commtouch Software Ltd., E-mail spam for the first quarter of 2010 can be broken down as follows.

Pharmacy 81%
Replica 5.40%
Enhancers 2.30%
Phishing 2.30%
Degrees 1.30%
Casino 1%
Weight Loss 0.40%
Other 6.30%

Origin or source of spam refers to the geographical location of the computer from which the spam is sent; it is not the country where the spammer resides, nor the country that hosts the spamvertised site. Because of the international nature of spam, the spammer, the hijacked spam-sending computer, the spamvertised server, and the user target of the spam are all often located in different countries. As much as 80% of spam received by Internet users in North America and Europe can be traced to fewer than 200 spammers.
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